News ID: 8510
Publish Date: 11 June 2012 - 10:55
German Writer
At least 55 people have been killed in a mass murder in the village of Qubeir near Hama in Syria. Activists from the local coordination committee have even reported the number of the victims to be at least 86.
Of those killed, 18 are women and children. Many of them have been burned in their houses or stabbed to death with knives. Most of the dead belong to one extended family. While the rebels accuse regime-allied militants for the bloodbath, the state television holds a "terror group" responsible for the massacre. 

The UN observers stationed in Hama wanted to visit the scene of the carnage in Qubeir on Thursday. The UN observers reported that the Syrian army denied them access to Qubeir. The leader of the UN observers, General Robert Mood said that even civilians hindered the observers from visiting Qubeir, offering them the explanation that their safety was not guaranteed if they were to visit the village. Later UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon said before the UN plenary assembly in New York that the observers had been fired at. He condemned the Qubeir killings as "shocking and sickening" and said Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his government have "lost all legitimacy." 

At first glance the massacre resembles the Houla carnage on May 25th when 108 people were killed. Members of the Syrian opposition, who come from the Houla region, were during the last days able to reconstruct the probable circumstances of the carnage based on the testimonies of eye-witnesses. Their results contradict the claims of the rebels who have accused the regime-affiliated Shabiha of the slaughter, alleging that they were acting under the protection of the Syrian army. Since recently opposition members who reject the use of force, have been murdered or at least threatened, the opposition members [who spoke to the writer of this article] asked that their names remain anonymous. 

The Houla massacre took place after the Friday Prayers. Fighting erupted as Sunni rebels attacked three Syrian army checkpoints around Houla. The role of these checkpoints was to protect the Alawi villages around the predominantly Sunni Houla from attacks. 

Rebels receive 300-million-dollar funds 

One of the attacked checkpoints called units of the Syrian army, which run barracks some 1,500 meters away, for help. Reinforcement was immediately sent. Dozens of soldiers and rebels were killed during the fighting around Houla which is thought to have lasted about 90 minutes. During these fights the three villages were sealed off from the outside world. 

According to eye-witness testimonies the massacre happened during this timeframe. Despite the fact that Houla has a more than 90% Sunni population, almost exclusively families from the Alawi and Shia minorities in Houla were killed. Several dozen members of one extended family, which had in recent years converted from Sunni Islam to Shia Islam, were slaughtered. Those killed included members of the Alawi family Shomaliya and the family of a Sunni member of parliament since he was considered as a government collaborator. Immediately after the massacre the culprits filmed their victims, representing them as Sunni victims and distributing the videos on the internet. Members of the Syrian government confirmed this version but pointed out that the government is committed to not publicly speak of Sunnis and Alawis. Syrian President al-Assad is Alawi while the opposition is overwhelmingly from the Sunni population majority. 

Meanwhile, expatriate Syrian businessmen living abroad in the Qatari capital Doha have established a fund of 300 million dollars to finance the Syrian opposition and rebels. Mustafa Sabbagh, the president of the Syrian Business Forum of businessmen in exile suggested raising the fund. Wael Merza, secretary general of the opposition Syrian National Council, said half of the sum has already been spent, part of which were donations to the Free Syrian Army. 

In the meantime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed the convening of an international conference on Syria, in which all lands that have an influence on the protagonists in Syria should participate. Lavrov said the circle of participants in the meeting must surpass the lands which have joined forces together as "Friends of Syria," as this group simply supports the "radical demands" of the Syrian National Council. Lavrov concretely named Turkey and Iran, alongside the United Nations Security Council, the EU and the Arab League, with the aim of implementing the Annan peace plan "correctly and without ambiguities." 



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